Source: Democracy Now!
Feb 17, 2023
The new Brazilian government recently conducted operations to expel thousands of illegal gold miners from Indigenous Yanomami land in the Amazon rainforest. The miners have caused a humanitarian crisis among the Yanomami who have suffered from severe malnutrition and illness from illegal mining operations that have polluted rivers and destroyed forests. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva recently accused Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government of committing genocide against the Yanomami people. Bolsonaro, who is expected to return to Brazil from Florida next month, could face genocide charges for his actions. Democracy Now! spoke to Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a leader and shaman for the Yanomami people, while he was in Washington, D.C., last week. Yanomami says he supports the prosecution of Bolsonaro.
I never owned much gold. Only a beautiful handmade wedding band, now lost, and two gold coins paid to me by someone who had borrowed money. I have been watching a series on Netflix COUNTRY QUEEN which has alerted me to horrendous gold mining practices in poor countries, and particularly in Africa. The story is set in Kenya and is about the effort of a native son to keep a venal mining company with main offices of course in Europe from cannibalizing his village in search of gold. This is a profoundly troubling expose of modern gold mining practices which use small children to dig out the metal.
Most of us are frightfully ignorant of the severe child abuse that is involved in the mining of the materials that keep our cars running (lithium et al), rings on fingers and in noses, and our savings accounts flush, as the dollar collapses. It is possible that, after knowing about what is happening to children and their communities because of the rapacity with which gold and other precious metals are being exploited, many will still want to buttress their own security, feed and clothe, educate and vacation with, their own children, while recognizing the enslavement, disfigurement and death of children half way around the globe. I understand this, though it makes me sad. My job it seems to me, is to help our common awareness of what is being done, that we would not want our own children or grandchildren to suffer. Acting on this information is up to each of us.
I am particularly startled by the information that mercury is required in the processing of gold! Mercury. A fierce toxin. It kills everything it touches. It destroys rivers as sources of food. It leads to starvation of the people who depend on edible fish.
It is fascinating to see that the Yamomami elder’s story about what is happening to his people, is the same as what is happening a world away in Kenya. That we are, for good or evil, one very fragile and relatively tiny, world.~aw